Thursday, June 2, 2011
Chinese in the Mission & Midnight in Paris
Photo from the New York Times magazine.
Fresh and revived from a sun-soaked weekend in Palm Springs? Check! Morning yoga and bike ride to Marin? Check! This was me on Memorial Day - going through the list of my weekend accomplishments. Back home in San Francisco, it was finally time for an afternoon spent doing nothing. Me - horizontal on the couch, new Jurlique mask - on my face, and the Sunday New York Times - as good as ever. A nice little set-up.
Flipping through the magazine, I came across this article by Mark Bittman about a culinary hot spot in San Francisco called Mission Chinese Food. It was probably the only moment amidst my lounging that I did anything that resembled a sit-up (abs engaged). A new pop-up restaurant in the Mission District? Chinese food with local and organic ingredients? Mark Bittman likes? Goodbye nap...
Within hours, my friend David and I were seated by the window of this happenin' establishment. We already had a plan for dinner and movie so when I mentioned the pop-up to him as a dinner option, we were on the same page entirely. He mentioned that the restaurant had been the topic of his lunch conversation with friends. It seemed meant-to-be. It became even more urgent that we fit Mission Chinese into our dinner plans because in just 2 days it would be closing for summer holiday.
Between the article and the looming summer hiatus, the place was an absolute mob-scene. Luckily, we got there at 5:45 and didn't have to wait to be seated. With our menus in hand, we took it all in - so this is the place Mark Bittman considers one of the hottest destination restaurants in the country...
Located in a pre-existing Chinese restaurant called Lung Shan, Mission Chinese is super low-key (dive-like as Bittman says) and has that Mom-and-Pop feel (it almost has the look of a breakfast diner). All we needed was David's iPhone to pull up the article to guide us through the menu (we wanted to follow Bittman's lead.) Here's what we settled on:
"Tiger Salad" - a kind of Spring Roll that was heavy on the herbs and spices. With every bite we took, there were new tastes to discover. As Bittman says, "the fuss is in the flavors." p.s. the head chef Danny Bowien (pictured above) brought it to the table himself. I'm not sure he was thrilled that I asked for it without cilantro...oh well.
"Salt Cod fried rice" - a crisp and refreshing take on one of my all-time favorite comfort dishes. This version had escolar and Chinese sausage. Flavorful and fresh!
"Thrice cooked bacon" with rice cakes, bitter melon, tofu skin, scallions, black bean and chili oil. The menu signaled that this was available as a vegetarian dish so we went that way. It was by far the highlight of the meal!
Needless to say, Mission Chinese was a hit! One minute, I'm reading about it on the couch and the next I'm experiencing it firsthand. If our visit to Mission Chinese wasn't spontaneous, I don't know what is. Also, when anything related to San Francisco is written up in the Times, I try to jump on board asap. I don't want to miss out on what's new and hot in my city! Culinary and cultural escapades about town? Check!
Oh, and the night didn't end there. We were off to see the new Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris. Not only do I love Woody Allen, but I've been reading some pretty stellar reviews of his latest flick. This one in the Times got me.
Photo from the New York Times.
The movie was an absolute delight - funny, sweet, and above all, nostalgic (and carefully so). Not that I was hungry by that point in the night, but the movie completely satisfied any leftover cravings I might have had - cravings more of the French persuasion and less of the food variety.
We made sure to throw a photo shoot outside of City Hall into the night - because why not? We weren't necessarily in Paris, but these trees always remind me of the ones in the Jardin Tuileries. And if this movie taught me anything, it's that you can be in one place but feel as though you're in another. It's a feeling that can really take you away...to anywhere you'd like.
Having said all of that, here's a questions for you, my readers:
How often does reading an article in a magazine dictate your days?